Take a peek inside any TRX class, and it’s easy to see why this style of training is so popular. TRX exercises can help you tone and strengthen every muscle in your body without the use of dumbbells or machines.
All it takes is your body weight, TRX suspension ropes, and a willingness to give it all you’ve got for at least 20 minutes. If you’re looking for a way to change up your workout at home or at the gym, you might want to give TRX training a try.
What is TRX?
Total Body Resistance Exercise (TRX) was developed in 1997 by Randy Hetrick, a Navy SEAL. While on deployment, Hetrick created his answer to staying fit while having no access to training facilities: the first version of TRX, which used parachute webbing and a jiu-jitsu belt.
From the launch of TRX Suspension Training courses for instructors in 2005 to the major milestone of one million TRX users just five years later, this simple suspension system continues to make waves in the fitness industry.
The Health Benefits of TRX
We all know the health benefits of exercise, but finding the time to prioritize movement is sometimes easier said than done. That’s why using TRX exercises for a total body workout makes so much sense.
Not only can you exercise all the major muscle groups in your body during one workout, but you can also choose to do it from the comfort of your own home or take a class with a certified trainer. While the list of TRX benefits goes on and on, here are a few that rise to the top:
Total Body Workout
TRX exercises allow you to get a full body workout using a single tool: the TRX Suspension Trainer. Miguel Vargas, training and development manager at TRX, says the benefits come from being able to work on your range of motion, mobility, strength, and conditioning simultaneously.
All Core, All the Time
The other well-known benefit of TRX is the ability to work your core with every exercise. In other words, Vargas says, you’re not just targeting one specific spot during a single exercise. “When you’re holding on to the handles and performing an exercise, your body has to fight the instability of the single anchor point, which then helps create more core stability,” he explains.
Adaptable to Most Skill and Fitness Levels
TRX Suspension training is an excellent modality for developing self-awareness around bodyweight training. Hilton Head Health certified personal trainer David Chesworth says that one of the greatest things about it is that TRX training is adaptable to all levels of mobility, ranging from someone who has difficulty standing upright to an Olympic athlete.
Increase the speed for a cardiovascular workout.
TRX workouts are typically associated with muscle strength and conditioning, but you can also increase your heart rate and get a decent cardiovascular workout by moving through the exercises at a faster pace.
Helps With Rehabbing Injuries
“TRX allows for rehab professionals to perform exercises with clients that they might not be able to do otherwise,” explains physical therapist Kellen Scantlebury of Fit Club NY. For example, Scantlebury says movements like the squat, row, and single-leg deadlift can be very difficult to perform after injury. “Using the TRX for assistance, however, helps the client perform these movements with reduced difficulty.”
How does TRX training work?
When you first look at a TRX system, it can be difficult to picture exactly how to use the straps. But once you see someone use it and you experience it for yourself, the movements will begin to make perfect sense.
TRX training is based on seven movements: push, pull, plank, rotate, hinge, lunge, and squat. Regardless of the exercise you’re doing, suspension training constantly challenges your core for a true total body workout.
Chesworth says the TRX single-anchor, double-handle system makes for the perfect blend of stability and mobility. “Through this mechanism, it challenges the stabilizer muscles of your own body to activate and adapt [to] inefficiency in a safe way,” he explains.
You can adjust the length of the TRX system for different exercises to make the movements more challenging. Adam McAtee, a Club Pilates instructor, says that increasing the length makes a longer lever, which creates more instability (causing the body to work harder to control the TRX). You can adjust the level of difficulty by changing the width of your stance, the speed at which you complete the exercises, and the angle in which your body is positioned relative to the anchor point (for example, the lower you are to the ground, the more difficult the row will be).
When you are performing arm exercises such as a triceps press or bicep curl, McAtee says the TRX system should be mid-length. When you are performing floor exercises such as a plank or bridge, the TRX can be lengthened even further to what’s called mid-calf, which is when the foot cradles are at the height of the student’s calves.
“It’s also important to note that during standing TRX exercises it is easy to adjust how much body weight the muscles absorb,” says McAtee. “The closer you place your feet to the anchor point, the more weight you will be working with.” So, if the exercise feels too heavy, simply walk away from the anchor point to adjust the difficulty level. If you’re not experiencing enough resistance, you should move closer in toward the anchor point.
Tips for Using TRX Equipment
You can use the TRX Suspension Trainer both indoors and outdoors. If you’re new to TRX training, it may be a good idea to take a class with a certified instructor who can show you how to adjust the TRX trainer and spot you as you learn how to do the exercises properly. If you decide to do TRX exercises on your own, however, here are some basic tips to be aware of as you get started:
- Choose a workout area measuring at least eight feet long by six feet wide, and make sure you’re on a flat, non-slip surface.
- You need to attach the TRX Suspension Trainer to a secure anchor point that is strong enough to support your body weight. According to the TRX Suspension Trainer set up and user tips video, suitable anchor points include doors, sturdy beams, weight racks, heavy bag mounts, railings, trees, or even fences. Always weight-test the equipment before doing your first exercise by pulling on the handles.
- Attach the suspension device to the anchor point by wrapping it as many times as necessary to ensure that the trainer hangs six feet from the ground.
- When you’re using the TRX, the length of the straps should be determined by what part of the body you’re focusing on. TRX certified personal trainer Nedra Lopez explains that the shorter strap length is indicated for working out the back, biceps, and legs with moves like lunges and squats, while the longer setting is used for chest, tricep, hamstring, and glute work along with core-specific workouts.
- Take the time to understand what right looks and feels like, says Vargas: “You can easily challenge many of the exercises by simply walking your feet closer to the anchor point, adjusting your foot position to challenge your center of gravity, or change the speed of the movement.”
- Vargas also recommends using the TRX Training App, especially if you’re new to training on the TRX Suspension Trainer. “You have access to great coaching tips, fun and challenging workouts, and you can take the workouts with you wherever you have your TRX Suspension Trainer,” he adds.
TRX Workout to Try for Yourself
There are multiple ways to design a TRX workout that will fit your skill level and help you reach your goals. If you’re relatively new to TRX exercises, starting off with a basic total body circuit is the safest and most effective way to train.
Once you gain some knowledge, strength, and confidence, you can incorporate more advanced moves or make the TRX exercises you’re doing harder by adjusting the length of the system. You can also divide your workouts up to target different muscle groups and body regions. For instance, perform multiple exercises for your upper body on day one and lower body exercises on day two.
Here’s a TRX workout that starts off light and ramps up in intensity. The goal, says Vargas, is to finish with your legs and arms a little shaky and your heart pumping.
TRX Total Body Workout
Perform each of the following exercises for 30 seconds in the first round, 40 seconds in the second round, and 50 seconds in the final round. Rest for 30 seconds in between each round (or as needed).
TRX Squat Row
TRX Forward Lunge With Y-Fly
TRX Crossing Balance Lunge
TRX Chest Press
TRX Mountain Climber
TRX Diagonal Runner
TRX Jump Squat
TRX Triceps Press
When you’re ready to design your own routine, Chesworth says an all-encompassing TRX workout should include these movements: planks, push, pull, hinge, squat, lunge and rotations. Once you learn the basics, the TRX workout is sure to become a staple in your routine.